uOttawa Gee-Gees men's hockey coach has faith in new team's character
Program missed 2 seasons after sexual assault investigation led to 2 players being charged
The new head coach of the University of Ottawa men's hockey team says he has faith in the leadership of his players as they get set to return to competition, two-and-a-half years after the program was suspended following reports of a sexual assault during a team trip in Thunder Bay.
- Guillaume Donovan, David Foucher charged with Thunder Bay sex assault
- Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey returns to ice in 2016-17 after suspension
- Patrick Grandmaitre named new Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey coach
Only one player is left from the 2013-14 team that was suspended after police in Thunder Bay received a report of a sexual assault in February 2014 that led to an investigation against several of its now-former players.
Two former players, Guillaume Donovan and David Foucher, have been charged with sexual assault and are expected to have trial dates set this coming week.
After learning of the complaint, the university fired the team's coach, suspended the program for more than a year and put together a sexual violence task force that came back with 11 recommendations, including sexual harassment and violence prevention training for all athletes and full-time coaches.
The suspension was lifted in June 2015 and the next month Gatineau native Patrick Grandmaitre was hired as the team's new head coach, tasked with rebuilding the program over the next year to return to play in the 2016-17 season.
Looking for more than on-ice success
At open tryouts Saturday to fill out the final six players on the team's roster, Grandmaitre said he has confidence in the leadership and character of the players he and his coaching staff have brought in.
"We went through those key things that we're looking for individuals, not hockey players. We're reinforcing what leads to good things in life, not just good things in the dressing room or on the ice," he said.
"They know what we're expecting of them, but what it comes down to is their actions. They know how big it is when they mess up and you're representing a huge university here in Canada."
Grandmaitre said the players who have already made the team have gone through new bystander training on what to do if you see a sexual assault happening, along with behavioural training, as every Gee-Gees team has to do.
"We're very committed to that stuff, not simply because of what happened," he said.
"It's because it's our philosophy and it's the type of program we want to build."
The Gee-Gees exhibition season starts Wednesday, while their regular season starts with a home game against the UOIT Ridgebacks on Oct. 7.